Exploring a Pioneering Blueberry Site Preserved in New Jersey


| 7/22/2014 4:51:00 PM


Many, but not enough, food heritage sites are included in the US National Registry of Historic sites. One we came across recently entirely by chance, enticed along the way by farm stands overflowing with blueberries, is Whitesbog Village in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. The coastal plain Pine Barrens of South Jersey comprise over one million sandy acres, peppered with bog lands. 

Blueberry Bush

On a late weekday afternoon, the quiet of the Village, featuring small roads built from what the locals call “sugar sand,” is compelling. It is immediately evident that teams of thoughtful dedicated volunteers from the Whitesbog Preservation Trust have labored long to keep this unique food historic site and its mission of education largely intact.

Established in the early 1900’s by Joseph J White as a “company” town dedicated to cranberry  growing, Whitesbog was the largest cranberry farm in New Jersey. Even today New Jersey is the third largest producer of cranberries in the US.

White’s daughter, Elizabeth C. White, was a plant pioneer who developed the first cultivated high bush blueberry at Whitesbog in 1916, working with USDA scientist Dr. Frederick A. Coville, a hybridization expert. Together they developed the first successful plantings derived from local varieties that had grown for millennia in the pine woods.

Visitors today can stand at their pioneering blueberry patch adjacent to the home Elizabeth White lived in all her adult life.  Her work not only produced a commercially viable blueberry, it also began the propagating, marketing and sale of blueberry bushes, an altogether new business. 



Historic Blueberry Patch



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